In his 1973 autobiography, Across the Straits, Kyffin Williams recounts the story of painting this portrait of Mrs Stanley, a 92-year-old resident of Beaumaris on the Welsh island of Anglesey.

‘Occasionally she would stop [humming] and fix me with two wet eyes. “You know not the day nor the hour,” she announced. And later, “God will take you in his good time.” This made it hard for me to concentrate, and I felt like pointing out the probability that He would take her first.’

Williams grew up on Anglesey and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. He later worked as a schoolteacher in London, but he continued to paint throughout his teaching career. He became known for his bold, distinctive portraits, characterised by the use of thick paint and large blocks of muted colour. He retired to Anglesey in 1973, devoting the remainder of his life to painting, predominantly using a palette knife to depict the dramatic landscape, people and vernacular buildings of his homeland.

Oriel Môn, which opened in 1991, is a purpose-built museum and art gallery dedicated to telling the story of Anglesey. In 2008 it opened the Kyffin Williams Gallery, an exhibition space built in honour of this celebrated local artist.

Williams supported Oriel Môn from its inception. It now holds approximately 400 of his works, most of them on paper but also 28 of his oil paintings on canvas. This portrait of Mrs Stanley, together with its local connections and the artist’s atmospheric story, makes an important addition to the museum’s collection.

Provenance

The work was owned by the granddaughter of the sitter. When she passed away in 2019, ownership of the portrait then passed onto her son, who resides in West Sussex. The painting was purchased by the family from a gallery in Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey dur




Exhibitions at Oriel Ynys Mon

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